A Week Without Violence highlights ever-present abuse problem in society

In light of recent bullying related suicides and A Week Without Violence, it’s important to remember how much abuse occurs in our world today. Whether it’s physical abuse in a relationship or cyber bullying from classmates and supposed friends, the effects of abuse are very real and pertinent to everyone’s life. Abuse can affect anyone and it can’t be ignored. There is no excuse for abuse.

According to a 2011 survey entitled “Liz Claiborne Inc.’s Love Is Not Abuse 2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll”, “nearly half of dating college women (43%) report having ever experienced violent or abusive dating behaviors, and more than one in five (22%) report actual physical abuse, sexual abuse or threats of physical violence.”

Another study found that “42% (of those surveyed) had been the victim of relationship violence by a partner, friend or acquaintance either before or during college, and 17% had been the perpetrator,” according to WMD Health News.

Abuse isn’t just limited to physical violence. Emotional abuse is just as reprehensible and detrimental as physical abuse. This abuse can appear  in relationships and bullying.

Knowing the warning signs of abuse is important, as Daphne Austin, the writer and director of play featured in  “The Voice of Truth,” emphasized. Many people hide those typical signs, especially around strangers.

The best chance for preventing and ending abuse is a network of strong friends. Austin, whose dramatic reading was presented during A Week With Violence, also said “The first step should be to try and find a hotline, but first tell somebody you trust.” Not only can close groups of friends recognize more subtle signs of abuse, but they can be available to listen when the victim comes forward.

The issue with abuse in the form of bullying is that bullied people don’t have those strong networks. When Amanda Todd made a YouTube video featuring her story of bullying, she was met with even more criticism. Her widely reported suicide soon after has started an uproar in anti bullying communities. She showed all the warning signs, but no one stepped in.

Obviously knowing warning signs is not enough. Part of the solution is a change in the way we view victims. Acknowledging abuse  or feeling overwhelmed does not make a person weak.

Abuse doesn’t only happen to any one gender or age group. In many cases, those experiencing abuse try to hide it or disregard its importance. If you have to stop and think, “Am I in an abusive relationship?” chances are that you are. No level of abuse is acceptable or unimportant. The stigmas around abuse are the thing that allows it to continue to happen, even in a civilized society like ours.

On a personal level, whether you have experienced abuse or not, it is crucial to be aware of all of the help available. The world can be made a better place if more and more people understand bullying and abuse and do what they can to prevent it.

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